Jeff Hickman is a very popular local fly fishing guide who grew up in the Mt. Hood area and hung out at The Fly fishing Shop in Welches, Oregon during his formative years. Here is what he says about his Fish Taco series of flies:
"When I get hungry, there is one thing that always comes to mind?a fish taco. It is the one thing that I don?t ever get sick of. The hunt for the best taco cart around is full time?and the fish taco is always the best indicator of the cart?s cuisine. I would say that fish tacos are my favorite food. When the Fish Taco fly was born, it was the perfect fly for my fishing needs and so naturally the name Fish Taco seemed most suitable. Why wouldn?t steelhead ranging from Alaska to Northern California returning to their natal streams, be hungry for a Fish Taco as well?
The Fish Taco was designed to fit a niche in my fly box, which I couldn?t previously find. I needed a fly that was the right size for steelhead, large enough to elicit an aggressive attack response, yet not so large to be intimidating to a fish in clear water conditions and not be weighted. The existing patterns available that were sized to my needs were all weighted. Fishing with clients, I noticed that large weighted flies were difficult for them to cast. When clients did make the casts the flies would often hang-up when they got into the soft inside water where many fish tend to hold. The fly I needed had to be the right size, be easy for people of all skill levels to cast, and would not hang up on the soft-inside.
In my mind, the fly I needed to fill this void had to be tied with a stinger hook that would capitalize on short strikes. I choose to use Maxima to hold the stinger hook firmly in place to insure the fly would not become fouled on a poor cast. It was also important that the fly maintained a large profile in fast water and impart lots of movement once it entered the softer water on the inside i.e., "The Strike Zone". Many hours on this vise later and many hours on the water later the Fish Taco was born.
Since its inception and introduction to the market, the Fish Taco has proven to be a versatile fly that is incredibly productive for a most of the anadromous species, in a variety of fishing situations. Originally designed to cross over as both summer and winter steelhead fly, it is also a very effective fly for all five Pacific salmon, char, sea-run browns as well as Atlantic salmon.
I believe its success comes firstly from being an extremely easy fly for anglers to cast. It can be cast on one or two handed rods using either floating or sinking lines. Getting the pattern to the fish is always the 1st step to successful steelhead fishing. The fly is dressed sparsely (and unweighted) making it easy to cast but once in the water, the fly holds its profile. Once the fly swings into the strike zone, the ostrich and sparse flash come to life making it Taco time for holding steelhead.
Different colors of the Fish Taco are productive in most water where steelhead are found and a variety of light conditions. In low clear conditions, red performs well. It lands softly in the pool and it is the right size to not spook fish when they are weary. Purple is also a great fly for finding fish in even the most colored water. Recently on the Deschutes, a client landed a nice steelhead on a purple Fish Taco when visibility was less than a foot.
When I guide for steelhead in Oregon, I tend to change the fly color based on the time of day. I typically will fish the purple Taco in the morning till just before noon, then switch to pink or red through the midday bright sun. When the sun is off the water in the late afternoon and evening, black is my go-to color. Chartreuse is my go-to color for Chinook."